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Dance R Kelly, for folk's sake

The Diary has long felt that there has been far too little thigh-slapping and hey-diddle-diddling at the Department for Education and Skills. So we hope Ruth Kelly heeds the call of the Folk Arts Network, a body that promotes traditional English music, to strap on the Morris bells, grab a handkerchief and get with the rhythms in the heads of the bearded men and women of the English folk scene.

Nothing less will do for Steve Heap, director of Folkarts England: "I think the Education Secretary needs to try sword-dancing or spring-dancing for herself." He also wants to take Stephen Twigg, schools minister, to a folk shindig.

"Folk music is our country's heritage. It's a really good vehicle for getting young people involved in music. But it is sidelined in the National Curriculum, and not given enough credibility or stature... "English traditions need to be celebrated, so ministers should come and take a look," he said.

Regular Diary readers will already be familiar with R. "Feeling on Yo Booty" Kelly's double life as a major rap and RB artist (Diary, January 14) so will the sensibly-shoed schmoozer be making the jump to the maypole circuit?

Her spokesman was about as enthusiastic as a call centre operative on a Friday afternoon: "The request will have to be put in writing," he said.

"Folk Arts Network need to issue a formal invitation before Ruth Kelly would consider it."

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